Messy Algorithms

When i walked out of the Pine and Peachtree streets Occupy Atlanta overnight space (they re-pitch tents in Woodruff park until 11 PM each day) a panhandler approached me.  I declined.

Which thru me into a bit of an intellectual tumble about my relationship with people asking for money.  Why am i declining this guy.  Sometimes i do give money to people who are requesting it.  Soon after there was a woman singing at the top of the MARTA entrance, she had a beautiful voice and it was easy to give her some change.

And i realized i dont even completely understand my own thinking on this topic.  It is easy to embrace “you cant solve this problem, so you dont have to do anything” mindsets.  But structural hopelessness has never been my bag.

Many years back my lover Beth from Greenpeace used to bring a pocket full of quarters to work everyday and she would give one to everyone who asked her for money.  She said it totally transformed her relationship with the street people.  She had small conversations with her regulars, who were by-in-large respectful, appreciative and surprisingly clever and funny.  She considered it a type of tax for using the streets which were their homes.

Perhaps i should just start carrying more quarters and being more generous with them.